Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Archive for March, 2012

Lake Zumbro Spring and Summer Pool

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Due to the recent warm weather Lake Zumbro will be raised from winter pool (elevation 918.5 dam datum) to the normal summer pool (elevation 919.7 dam datum) with a target date of April 1st.  The lake level will slowly be raised over this time period until the normal summer pool is reached, but could be sooner than the target date if there is a significant rain event.

Real-time lake level information is available on the RPU web site ( For additional information regarding the Zumbro Dam and Hydroelectric Facility please contact Tony Benson 280-1534 or Todd Osweiler, 280-1589.



Tips for safe boating:


Watch the weather. Be aware of changing water levels and conditions that would expose logs, snags or cause floating debris. Be cautious when boating in the vicinity of the dam. Do not proceed past the warning signs and buoys. Tell someone where you are going, who is with you, and how long you will be away. Avoid standing, and when changing seats, stay low and near the centerline of your boat. Be ready for trouble when a powerboat passes you in a narrow channel. Maintain a safe operating speed. Always wear approved personal flotation devices (PFD).



About Rochester Public Utilities


As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 47,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 36,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.




Beware of salespeople pitching energy savings from radiant barriers

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

The Minnesota Department of Commerce issued a consumer alert today, encouraging Minnesota homeowners to think twice before installing radiant barriers in their attics. The Department’s Division of Energy Resources (DER) has received reports of salespeople pitching radiant barrier products in flyers and at free dinners throughout Minnesota. The Commerce Department wants all local consumers to know that radiant barriers are not an effective means to reduce heating or cooling loads in Minnesota homes.

“Many Minnesota consumers have been duped into installing radiant barriers based on false promises of substantial energy savings,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “We strongly urge all consumers to be cautious, ask questions, and explore other reputable means to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient.”

Radiant barriers consist of a reflective film, usually aluminum, installed over the top of attic insulation in existing homes. They are sold as an energy-saving product, with claims of significant reductions in both heating and cooling costs. However, their potential benefit is primarily in reducing air-conditioning cooling loads in warm or hot climates – particularly in southern states.

A report compiled by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, shows that the benefits of radiant barriers decrease significantly in northern climates. In southern cities like Miami, Florida or Austin, Texas, radiant barriers could reduce a household’s utility bill by as much as $150 per year using average residential electricity prices. But in colder climate states such as Minnesota, where annual air-conditioning loads are considerably less, savings drop to only $10 to $40 a year.

“The price to install a radiant barrier can be as much as $2,000 or more,” Commissioner Rothman said. “But if the average household saves only $20 per year, it would take 100 years to pay back your investment.”

It’s also important to note that radiant barrier products have negligible benefit in reducing heating costs. It is unlikely that most Minnesota consumers would realize any measurable energy savings from radiant barriers in attics.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Minnesota Department of Commerce agree that, in Minnesota, implementing air sealing and adding conventional attic insulation is a cheaper and more effective means for saving energy than installing a radiant barrier. In fact, as attic insulation levels increase, the potential benefits from a radiant barrier decrease.

For more information on insulation and other energy-efficient measures to improve your home, contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce at 800-657-3710 or 651-296-5175 or visit The website offers free downloadable home energy guides, including the “Home Envelope” guide that includes information on air sealing, insulation, and home energy audits.

RPU Sponsored Community Education Classes Available

Friday, March 9th, 2012

RPU is sponsoring two community education classes covering geothermal heating and cooling and smart grid. Class sizes are limited so make sure to sign up today!


Registration can be made by calling 507.328.4000 or on the Rochester Community Education website.

Residential Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Whether you are building a new home or considering a new heating and cooling system for your present one, consider the economic and environmental advantages of geothermal technology. It is the world’s most advanced, most cost-effective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system for new or existing homes. This class will provide you with geothermal basics: what it does and how it works. It uses the ground as a heating and cooling source-learn how. Geothermal heating and cooling systems can provide greater comfort and energy savings. Find out information on federal tax credits and Rochester Public Utilities’ installation incentives. Cosponsored with Rochester Public Utilities (RPU). Instructor: Arnie Lorimor


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

6:30-8:30 p.m.


What is the Smart Grid and What Does it Mean

The term “Smart Grid” was created after a major blackout occurred in the Northeastern United States in August 2003. Analysis revealed that if additional intelligence about grid conditions had been more widely known earlier, the extent of the blackout could have been reduced, if not avoided altogether. This overview will provide you with an understanding of our current grid, the goal of Smart Grid, new terminology, and what does Smart Grid mean for you as customers and Rochester Public Utilities (RPU). Cosponsored with Rochester Public Utilities. Instructors: Rochester Public Utilities Staff

RPU opening at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 8

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

RPU will be holding an employee meeting the morning of Thursday, March 8. Due to the meeting time, the RPU service center will open at 9 a.m.

Payments can always be made online or over the phone by calling 1-855-210-2285.

Thank you for your business!

HomeServe letters not affiliated with RPU

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Rochester residents have recently started to receive letters from HomeServe offering water service line coverage. This is NOT affiliated with RPU in any way.

RPU has service coverage available called Service Assured®. Water service cover is $1.99 or $2.99 for both water and electric coverage.

SIgn up for Service Assured® today!